In the old days, people only had phones in their homes or at work. So, if you needed to convey bad news to someone, you'd most likely wait until they got home from work (unless it was an emergency), tell them to sit down, then deliver the bad news.
Now that everyone is on a cell phone, I've noticed that bad news can be delivered anywhere, anytime. For instance, today Michael and I went to Target because, well, because it was a day of the week. We love Target. Not the point of this story, though. So, we pulled in to Target and a dear friend from Los Angeles called to let me know he was being deported. I ushered Michael into the store and I sat down on a bench outside Target and started talking over this bad news with my caller. I sat down, adhering to the custom of receiving bad news.
A few moments later, a woman exited Target, with a cell phone held to her ear. "What are you telling me?" She said. Then tears began to roll down her cheeks and she asked for more information as she walked off to her car.
Yes, yes, cell phones have made our lives better and isn't it great that you can reach me at anytime of the day or night? But have we become so used to using the things, and so accustomed to 24-hour news and communications, that it's okay to tell someone the dog died while they're holding a carton of eggs at Safeway?
Now that I've noticed this phenomenon, I'm going to be on the lookout for people getting bad news on their cell phones in public. Will they sit down? Will they cry? Will they still reach for the low-fat salad dressing, or will they make a beeline for the cookie dough aisle?
I, for one, don't want to be on the dance floor, getting my groove on and have to yell into the phone, "My mouse burned down? What?!"